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Effect of Buttermilk in Waffles

My husband asked for waffles for dinner tonight. I have buttermilk I need to use up. BUT, everytime I've ever subbed buttermilk for skim milk in my waffle recipe, the waffles come out tough and not as crispy. I've tried it a lot, they are always of a worse texture w/ buttermilk. I don't notice a significant difference when I make pancakes, even though the recipe is the same, with the exception that I whip the whites separately if I'm making waffles. (it's very possible that all the bananas and chocolate chips in my pancakes hide textural issues)

The recipe

dry
1 3/4 flour
1 Tbls baking powder
1 teas salt

wet
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
2 tbls melted butter

Any ideas on what causes this, and what I could do to use buttermilk tonight and still have a good texture? thanks!

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  1. Whole milk contains a higher level of fat than buttermilk. I might try increasing the melted butter by two tsp. and see how that works. "Butter", not margarine.

    1. There should be baking soda in the recipe. The acidity of the buttermilk plus the baking soda produces some of the leavening - thus lightness - in the waffles. I don't have a recipe right at hand, but I suspect this is your problem. Buttermilk also gives a nice flavour but without the extra fluffiness it would be as you describe - stodgy and heavy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Nyleve

        I thought that might be it. I'll try to find a recipe specifially for b-milk waffles and see if I can figure out how much soda to add.

        1. re: danna

          Most recipes for buttermilk waffles - or buttermilk anything, for that matter - will contain baking soda. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a recipe.

      2. Wow, not 20 minutes ago, I just finished reading an article in the latest Cook's Illustrated "Best Buttermilk Pancakes". Not waffles of course, but as you pointed out, close cousin (waffles also normally have a little bit of oil added).

        Don't know if you're a CI fan or not, but they do go to great lengths to try to analyze the chemistry and figure out what works and what doesn't. Texture was discussed mostly about avoiding flat, gummy, or dense. Acid being the main culprit for affecting texture - bottom line, too much acid (mostly from buttermilk) = dense. Too little = bland. Am I allowed to print the recipe? If not, I suppose you go hunt for it at the newsstand (July/Aug). It's interesting reading, at least to me, but then I'm a science geek. :)

        Looking at your recipe and CI's, I'd say the approx difference between theirs and yours is theirs had 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 C sour cream (a different acid that yielded positive results) and less salt 1/2 tsp table salt. do you use sugar in yours? A couple tablespoons is about right for your recipe. And substitute all buttermilk instead of regular milk. They cooked in oil (wiped out), but I cook in butter. Mmmm!

        As a baker, I'd prefer to give you exact recipe, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed...(copyright mess and all that).

        6 Replies
        1. re: Scirocco

          my sense is that you can post recipes, you just have to paraphrase the instructions in your own words: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676...

          yes, yes, yes to butter.

          1. re: Scirocco

            thanks so much! don't bother to paraphrase, I think I can figure it out from your desciption, and I don't mind a little imprecision ! I don't use sugar, but I think I will for the b-milk ones since it tenderizes baked goods.

            oh, and you're right, my original waffle recipe called for oil instead of butter, but i decided to improve it ;-)

            1. re: danna

              sorry so late in replying was running around town....ok, will attempt to paraphrase instructions... :) with baking, exact amounts are pretty critical so I feel like I should post amounts (and it said that in the recipe too that small changes make big differences).

              remember, this is the PANCAKE recipe, so have included some adjustments for waffles...

              here goes:
              2 C AP flour
              2 Tblspns sugar
              1/2 tsp table salt
              1 tsp baking powder
              1/2 tsp baking soda
              2 C buttermilk
              1/4 C sour cream
              2 large eggs
              3 Tblspn unsalted butter, melted

              ok, so that was for pancakes, so would probably do an oil/butter mix for waffles and of course, separate the eggs, whip whites, etc, etc. Basically, whisk dry, whisk wet, combine together, then I would fold in egg whites. do not over mix. let sit 10 minutes

              they mentioned that if you use King Arthur flour (higher protein), add an extra Tablespoon or two of buttermilk. If you use something like Gold Medal or Pillsbury, then use recipe as is.

              hope it works out for you!

              and of course, nothing but REAL maple syrup. :)

              1. re: Scirocco

                Thanks! Unfortunately, I didn't read your post until just now, but I came fairly close last night to good results.

                I added 1/2 tsp baking soda and still used the Tbl of b. powder. I also added 2 Tbs of sugar. subbed buttermilk for all the milk (i normally use skim)

                My husband - who did not know I was experimenting - commented that they were the best waffles I had made in some time. Indeed, the flavor was really good. I liked them too, my only quibble being that they were a little soft...not tough at all (yea!) but only the last batch - that I left in the iron for 15 minutes while I ate - actually got crispy. The husband prefers them soft, however, so that was fine.

                Thanks, all.

                1. re: danna

                  I had that problem too (with any waffle recipe - in fact started a thread on here a year or so ago about it) and until I cranked the waffle iron on high, they were too soft (my husband likes them crispy). I thought "high" might burn them, but it works well. Also, when I eat them, I cut them in half and make room on the plate for the syrup instead of pouring it onto the waffle directly. helps keep them from getting soggy.

                  Oh, just remembered....I read another thing you can do is put them on a rack in the oven at a low temp for a little while before eating. But, I can't wait that long. :)

                  1. re: danna

                    just had another thought (I obviously need more to do)...I wonder how the addition of oil in waffles (and not present in pancakes) affects crispiness or if that is why it's added since you use an iron instead of a pan...?? although one reason I use butter for cooking pancakes is that it browns nicely (and, of course, the flavor!) .....hmmm.....must research...

            2. Whenever you have buttermilk you usually have baking soda. It just needed a bit more leavening.

              1. I just made buttermilk pancakes the other day from a recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. His general recipes are with milk and baking powder. HOWEVER, he notes that if you want to make the recipes with buttermilk, you need to sub 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda for the 1 T baking powder in the recipes, and that you may need to thin with a little milk. His basic recipe is almost identical to yours.

                1. If you ever try yeast-raised waffles (the Fannie Farmer cookbook version by Marion Cunningham is immortal and easy found on the web), you may not need to worry about this again.